2011: A more competitive 7-9

Posted Jun 25, 2014

The Seahawks had the same record in their second season under coach Pete Carroll as they did in the first. But that’s where the similarities to 2010 ended, as the team was more competitive and simply better.

In their second season under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks finished with the same 7-9 record they posted during his first season as coach.


Record: 7-9 (third in NFC West)

Owner: Paul Allen

Coach: Pete Carroll

Captains: QB Tarvaris Jackson (offense), CB Marcus Trufant (defense) and FB Michael Robinson and RB Leon Washington (special teams)

MVP: not awarded since following the 1998 season; but selected RB Marshawn Lynch

Man of the Year: TE John Carlson

Largent Award: DE Red Bryant

Leading passer: Jackson (271 of 450 for 3,091 yards, with 14 TDs and 13 interceptions)

Leading rusher: Lynch (1,204 yards, 12 TDs)

Leading receiver: Doug Baldwin (51 receptions for 788 yards and four TDs)

Leading tackler: MLB David Hawthorne (115)

Special teams tackles: LB Heath Farwell (21)

Interception leader: CB Brandon Browner (6)

Sack leader: DE Chris Clemons (11)

Leading scorer: K Steve Hauschka (109)

Pro Bowl: FS Earl Thomas, starter; SS Kam Chancellor, Browner, Lynch and Robinson played in the game as alternates

All-Pro: none

National honors: none

At least that was the view at first glance.

Look a little closer and it’s apparent that the Seahawks were more competitive and simply better in Year 2 P.C. than they were in Year 1 P.C.

Case in point – or points, in this case: In 2010, the Seahawks lost nine games by an average of 21 points; and in 2011, the average margin of defeat was 9.8. And all nine losses in 2010 were by double digits, compared to four in 2011, and only one in the final 10 games. Also in 2010, they lost six road games by an average margin of 20.2 points; and in 2011, it was five road losses by an average of 11.2 points.

Need more proof: The Seahawks upset the playoff-bound New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, and also had two-point losses to the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers and playoff-bound Atlanta Falcons. In 2010, they defeated one playoff-bound team – the Chicago Bears.

No matter how you stack it, that’s progress. And so was the Seahawks going 5-3 in the second half of the season, compared to 3-5 in 2010.

“We know we’ve got a better team this season,” said free safety Earl Thomas, a first-round draft choice in 2010 who in 2011 became the first Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl since 2008 in only his second NFL season. “We’re young, but this experience we got this season and all the plays we made, we can build on that going into next season.”

The strengths of the 2011 Seahawks were their ability to run the football, and stop the opposition from running it. Marshawn Lynch, who was obtained in an October trade with the Buffalo Bills in 2010, found his legs in 2011, posting career-highs in rushing yards (1,204) and touchdowns (13).

“It’s very encouraging,” Lynch said. “Just to know that if we call a run play, we know we can run it and get success out of it. You’ve got to be pleased with that, being a running back, knowing that they’re going to get the job done.

“And they’re young and are going to get better.”

That’s what the running game did in its first season under assistant head coach/line coach Tom Cable. After the Seahawks averaged 77.7 rushing yards in the first seven games, they averaged 134.9 over the final nine to finish 21st in the league – up from 31 in 2010 – as Lynch had 941 of his yards and 10 of his TDs during that productive stretch.

The defense, meanwhile, finished ninth in the league in average yards allowed. It was the Seahawks’ first Top 10 finish since 1997 and only the sixth in franchise history. The Seahawks also forced 31 turnovers, and the only teams with more advanced to the postseason.


A look back at the first 35 seasons in Seahawks history:

1976: The NFL comes to Seattle
1977: A totally different feeling
1978: Sims for six
1979: Playing, and having fun
1980: Where there’s a Will
1981: When football was fun
1982: Jack Patera’s last stand
1983: A magical year
1984: From “Ground Chuck” to “Air Knox”
1985: Great Expectations
1986: One Super finish
1987: Replacement parts
1988: A “first kiss” of a season
1989: Steve Largent’s last stand
1990: In Tom Catlin, they trusted
1991: Philosophical differences
1992: All but pointless, to a point
1993: A six-pack of wins
1994: Tom Flores’ finale
1995: Dennis Erickson takes over
1996: Field of schemes
1997: Two big steps toward big things
1998: Better, but not good enough
1999: Overexposed
2000: A salary cap-casualty of a season
2001: Walter Jones pitches a perfect 9
2002: A season of second chances
2003: A launching pad of a season
2004: NFC West champs, at last
2005: Seahawks become Super
2006: Coming up just short
2007: A last hurrah
2008: One off-key swansong
2009: Unfulfilled expectations
2010: Historical, and hysterical

2011: A more competitive 7-9

To come
2012: A return to winning ways
2013: Doing it better than it’s ever been done before

There were plenty of individuals who contributed to the team’s improvement in addition to Lynch and Thomas, who had 92 tackles: Jon Ryan broke his team records for punting average (46.6) and net average (39.3), erased the mark for longest punt that had stood since 1995 with a 77-yarder and also tied the club record for punts inside the 20 with a league-high 34; Red Bryant blocked a club-record four kicks; Heath Farwell had a league-high 21 coverage tackles on special teams despite not joining the team until Week 7; Tarvaris Jackson, in his first season with the team, passed for 3,091 yards despite playing most of the season with a damaged pectoral in his throwing shoulder; Doug Baldwin, a rookie free agent, led the team in receptions (51) and receiving yards (788); the cornerback tandem of first-year starters Brandon Browner and rookie Richard Sherman combined for 10 interceptions; strong safety Kam Chancellor had 94 tackles and four interceptions; Leo end Chris Clemons produced 11 sacks for the second consecutive season; and Leon Washington averaged 25.2 yards on kickoff returns and 11.3 on punt returns.

And the Seahawks displayed – and at times flaunted – their improvement in a season when the 136-day lockout erased the offseason and Carroll and general manager John Schneider continued to scramble the roster with 231 transactions after making 284 in their first season together.

“I always liken it to the ‘Three Little Pigs.’ You can build it with straw or sticks,” Schneider said after the team started 2-6. “Or you can work your tail off and know that you’re doing the right thing and kind of do it the old-fashioned way and have a big, strong, sturdy foundation. Then you can weather all the storms.”

And Carroll could sense that the Seahawks had built a base for the good things to come.

“We’re at the foundation of building this program, and it’s taken us a couple of years to do that,” Carroll said. “We know the formula. We know the style.”

And now, we all know what was to come.